Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith: Best & Worst Moment

As someone eternally loyal to the original Star Wars trilogy it's hard for me to be a great defender of the George Lucas prequel trilogy, which, of course, was a technical achievement more than a success of character or acting.

I can point to moments along the way that I enjoyed in the prequel films. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was truly awful and I really don't have much to say about that film. I know many of the olders out there feel the same way. Anakin was atrocious. Jar Jar Binks worse than atrocious and a terrible CGI creation in the name of George Lucas merchandising. I'd have to say Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are the best things about the Episode 1 prequel. On the whole it's a pretty vacuous film about "Ani" and the disjointed, uneven storytelling cannot be saved by two seasoned actors. Seriously, even Naboo is really boring. The Boy Wonder doesn't quite appreciate these finer details.
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Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones was a huge improvement, but that didn't take a lot. You could have sneezed into a tissue and held it open to the audience and it would have been better. Gross I know. I loved the Jango/ Obi Wan smackdown and the Slave I asteroid chase, but even then it felt different than the original trilogy films. Could it have been a case of too much Slave I? Was it too clean and perfect? The original Boba Fett vessel was like a harbinger of evil to come. I suppose there's never enough Slave I, but it still wasn't the original trilogy. Did Boba give it a paint job along the way? I never did get that, but I haven't paid close attention to the mythology since the original trilogy. I do love the Clone Wars precursor battle at the end in the arena with all of the Republic Gunships and the massive jedi and clone force. Battle don't get much better. Yoda's lightsaber duel with Count Dooku was good. Admittedly, I was never a huge fan of Christopher Lee and the whole Dooku character. Pasting the old timer's face on a younger man's body is hard to buy. I needed someone a tad younger. I wasn't a fan of Darth Maul either. It was like George Lucas was trying way too hard. Dooku wasn't much better going to the opposite, more ordinary extreme. Of course, Episode II had all of those love story interruptions ...Ugh! I know Lucas was trying to tell his love story portion of Star Wars, but the acting was anemic or wooden or however you want to categorize it. Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen had little chemistry. It was hard to watch. It was especially hard to watch them frolic in the fields on those large round alien creatures. It was silly. It was just plain atrocious. Then it was back to the Jango fight. It was such a jarring, strange juxtaposition throughout the film and I'm not opposed to love stories [District 9 anyone?].

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith was good. I think I like it best as a whole. We're almost at the point with this film where George Lucas is close to making a decent Star Wars movie, but that won't happen entirely until Episode IV. You'll have to go back in time for that one. I suppose I'm not demonstrating a great deal of mercy here. I like the Wookie battle on Kashyyyk and some of the heavy equipment and clone gear in that sequence. The coloring looks terrific and it was by far the most interesting location of the three films- odd that it looks closest to Earth. But like everything else in this film it's far too brief. We hardly get to see any of the cool stuff for more than a few seconds. Lucas tried to cram way too much into his epic tale at the expense of the audience. Older fans wanted to sit back and absorb some of these places and take in the details, but just don't blink. It's understandable the modern day video gamers didn't see the problems as much as the raised and reared Atari folk.
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This leads me to the original purpose for this post. I love the various jedi and the races who populate the order, but they are struck down with Order 66 like a group of rag dolls and it was just so mishandled in my opinion it took alot of jedi credibility away for me from the film. Many of them are blindsided and killed from behind and that was just unbelievable, but potentially debateable for me. The biggest crime is committed when the four jedi confront Chancellor Palpatine and they get their asses handed to them in seconds. It was a travesty of justice in more ways than one felt like a betrayal to the Star Wars mythology. No excuse in the world could ever prepare you for the jedi being struck down like four random, nameless, rabble of battle droid. By the way, are the battle droids good for anything? They don't seem to be of any value with the exception of Jedi debris removal and target practice. George Lucas really messed up by attempting to compress his story. It was far too convenient to just wipe the floor with the jedi to move his story forward. No way in a million years would Kit Fisto, Saesee Tiin, Eeth Koth and Mace Windu allow that Sith lord to beat them. In fact, three of the aforementioned jedi are killed in exactly 8 seconds flat [I timed it with a watch]. From the moment Palapatine goes nuclear the deal is done in 8 seconds. HUH?! It wouldn't happen. Four against one. I'm not buying it. Lucas screwed the pooch on this one.


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What I did love about the third and final prequel film was one of the most genuinely touching, human moments in the entire trilogy for me. I was moved by Ewan McGregor in this scene and when it happened I realized what I had missed most about Star Wars, character and investment in those characters. This for me was the greatest moment of the third installment and possibly the prequel trilogy. Granted without the other two films would it have had the same impact?




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Man, that scene choked me up. I'm a softy. All in all the bloated Star Wars prequel films were tedious and just weighted down by a lot of technical talk and political mumbo jumbo. The prequel films were simply disappointing on so many levels. The original Star Wars trilogy is the must see trilogy when Anakin [Darth Vader] and Obi-Wan meet again. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope would see the Obi-Wan/ Darth Vader duel to the death or as The Boy Wonder put it to me, "it's like old man fighting." Ouch! He is harsh. That's okay. I can handle it. And he does love the originals actually, despite the nursing home battle.

11 comments:

Havremunken said...

Hey,

Long time no comment, even tho I recently watched both Avatar (3D) and District 9. I think I can blame the baby's sleep patterns for not being more active.. ;)

I disagree with you on some points, and completely agree on others. Some stuff just works for me, despite it being generally hated by all of Star Wars fandom. And no, I am not talking about Jar Jar. I hate him too. :)

There is much to dislike about Phantom Menace, but I do really enjoy some parts of it - Darth Maul being one of them, just from his looking so darn evil. Oh, and the double bladed lightsaber. That kind of blew my mind. However, while I loved the whole duel of the fates thing with Obi and Liam Neeson battling it out with Maul, there is a big weakness here that you have already pointed out. Let us call it Weakness 1 so that we can refer back to it later on in the comment.

Attack of the Clones was great IMHO. Of course it has a lot of angsty stuff in there as well, and the whole Sound of Music thing makes me cringe when I think about it. However, like most Star Wars fans I really like the dark stuff (which I believe is a big part of why Empire Strikes Back seems to be the most popular movie overall), and it comes to the surface here big time with the death of Darth Mother. I LOVE how Anakin slaughters the sand people as revenge, but even more I love how he tells Padme about it. "I killed them.. I killed them all!". Gives me dark-side goosebumps! Also, the second-to-final scene I think is really great - Palpatine overlooking what is in practice the birth of the empire war machine with "Imperial March" blasting from the speakers came close to being exciting in a whole different sense of the word than most sci-fi. ;) Of course I could live without all the gooey love stuff, but I guess it is better to know that Luke and Leia actually would have a loving mother if she had survived, and not just some space-crack-wh*re that Vader picked up to blow off some jedi-killing steam. I really love the Yoda fight scene here, but right before he shows us what an 800 year old badass he is, we see another glaring example of Weakness 1.

Then we get to Revenge of the Sith. I may get my Star Wars Geek Badge revoked, but this one is actually up there with the old movies for me. And to my defence I'll just mention Ewoks. ;) But anyway, if Clones went dark, in Sith it all goes pitch black. No, it doesn't have the fun action of the old movies, but man. I have to respectfully disagree with you on the Order 66 thing. The jedi were backstabbed by their trusted clones - it could probably have been handed better on screen, agreed, but after years of war they had no reason to distrust the people they fought alongside every day. So when the jedi start dropping like flies, it seems like Yoda is the only one capable of feeling it (just like he felt Mace Windu dying) and dodging it (Obi got lucky!). It's sad, but we've known about it for 30 years - the jedi purge was brutal and painful. Even better, in my twisted, wicked mind, was Anakin's return to the jedi temple, slaughtering the poor innocent little jedi babies. The look on the wee lil' ones face as Anakin ignites his light saber is... well, this is really dark stuff. And I love every second of it.

I also love the scene you show here. All of the duel, basically, but starting all the way back when Padme confronts Anakin. Then Obi in the door.. then the hate/love stuff at the end. Awesome stuff.

And of course, again we have another example of Weakness 1.

(To be continued)

Havremunken said...

So lets get into that. Weakness 1 is basically when a capable, kick-ass character suddenly goes all jelly and is killed in a way that would NEVER happen to someone like that. In Phantom Menace it happened to both Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. In Attack of the Clones, pay attention to Anakin as Dooku is chopping his arm off. He is just standing there, waiting for it. This could have been coordinated better. And of course, in Sith, as you point out, the four jedi being reduced to one by Palpatine in seconds. "Oh, he's sticking the lightsaber straight into my body, well there's no defence for that!"

Also, I am a little bit confused by the relative powers of these guys.

Yoda is supposed to be more or less top dog, but he faced a scarred and overworked Palpatine, and while he certainly showed some flair, he got whooped bad enough that he didn't regroup with Obi-Wan to stage an assasination, he went into hiding for 20+ years. Weird.

Palpatine is supposed to be top dog in the dark side, he probably is a little weaker than Yoda with the force, but has the advantage of dark side tricks and less restrictions than the jedi. However, after eating 3 jedi for breakfast he has real trouble with Mace Windu, and needs Anakin's help to even survive.

Mace Windu is somewhere in the vicinity of Yoda, I guess, but he didn't have the brains to pay attention to Anakin? Man.

Anakin should basically be more powerful than all of them, but I guess that was before he lost all those limbs and stuff. Darth Vader is still a very powerful character (since all but a few of the jedi are gone), but I am guessing that he wouldn't be able to overthrow Palpatine by himself after the duel with Obi.

Obi is a powerful jedi, but can't really compete with these other guys, and he knows it. He beats Anakin with experience, and then commits the fatal decision of not making sure he really is dead. I bet he had regrets on that for the rest of his life.

Luke was probably up there with pre-duel Anakin, despite his mother not having any force abilities AFAIK. He didn't have proper training though, so the emperor washed the floor with him until the Skywalker family finally stepped up and got rid of the guy.

Some times, late at night, I think about these things.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Long time, no see :)

I'd have to disagree about AOTC and TPM. Have you ever read these?
http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/38/clones1.htm
http://www.lardbiscuit.com/lard/ilovetpm.html
http://www.lardbiscuit.com/lard/shroud.html

M.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Wow a double shot. Awesome to hear from my man H and M girl! Two of Babylon 5's finest commentators have returned like Luke Skywalker to find his father.

I always love the discussion. What can I say to these wonderful comments dear visitors. They speak for themselves with in depth perspectives.

I would only point out that I did love certain moments in all of them especially AOTC and ROTS. I LOVE the whole concept of ORDER 66! Love it! I was disappointed in the everso brief execution. It really was covered too quickly, but it is brilliant.

Oh and your mentioning of the Jedi temple scene. That was heartwrenching. Again, I do think ROTS was very good. AOTC was solid just uneven for me.

YES! WEAKNESS 1! Completely well put. Would Qui-Gon go down, two on one? I dunno. BUT YES! EXACTLY. On film these guys just take their deaths. There is absolutely no defense going on. great examples H!

YES YES YES, these power questions are absolutely relevant questions H! It all should have been handled better. And adding to all of your wonderful points, you have Darth Vader grabbing and killing the Emperor in ROTJ. But, that was handled better wasn't it?

I'm glad you shared these thoughts with all of us H! You should sleep more often. :)

M - I will check those sites out! TKU!

Hope you all stay well.

Anonymous said...

About these power questions. I actually think the whole point of the PT was to establish that you can't beat the dark side by means of sheer force power. Lucas even said in the commentary that in terms of sheer force power, the dark side is stronger. The whole point of the PT is that violence is not the way. As one reviewer has pointed out, in the PT every time someone draws a lightsaber first they lose the fight. Every victory the Jedi achieve is actually a pyrrhic victory that makes Palpatine stronger. In TPM they succeed in beating the Trade Federation but as a result Palpatine becomes Chancellor. In AOTC they succeed in beating the Separatists but as a result, Palpatine's position is even stronger than before. It's all about how the Jedi lose their way, turn to dark side methods and nearly lose everything in the process.

Which gives Luke's mission in the OT so much more weight. After having seen Palpatine fight, we now know that he was sent there without the slightest chance of ever winning in a fight. A barely trained Jedi against the two most powerful Sith Lords. It was a desperate move by Yoda and Obi-Wan to send him there, hoping that somehow he might find a way to resolve the situation. Notice that the only training Luke had was spiritual training. He had no combat training whatsoever. Yoda and Obi-Wan were hoping that Luke would find a way to resolve the situation by other means than a fight.

M.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

An impressive take and more jedi food for thought. Thank you M.

Havremunken said...

I do agree with M here mostly, but there is also another angle here.

Anakin DID fulfill his destiny and destroyed the Sith - since there are ever only two of them, he killed Palpatine and then died himself. It just took Palpatine dominating his son with ligthning bolts to get him to turn around.

Luke at this point was - as we can agree - strong with the force, but had nothing in the form of combat experience. Vader had plenty from the war, and while we don't know much about Palpatine's past, we know enough that he would take Luke out on a level playing field every time.

However, one of the points that I think is often overlooked, is that when Luke emerged as the sole survivor of the showdown between the three most powerful (with the force) beings in the galaxy, he was not pure jedi anymore. He gave in to his hatred, tried to strike down the emperor, and indirectly succeeded. In one of the video games (I forget which one), they make a point of mentioning how the old "passive" ways of the jedi helped their demise along. So the new jedi order, led by Luke, are embracing some dark side qualities - like passion - to be stronger and better wielders of the force. They are of course also extremely aware of not going too far to the dark side, seeing the effect it has had on others (seems like the last years of the Sith were dominated by jedi defectors). However, to deny the power that lies by using your passion (as opposed to, say, hatred or anger) is to weaken yourself in the face of a potentially evil opponent.

Yoda was a bit of a little, green hypocrite in this department. Force lightning, for instance, is something the jedi stay away from. It is for more hateful individuals. However, when the poop hit the fan and Sidious had the galaxy by the planets, Yoda saw that he needed to cross the line to even be in the fight. He was strong enough to master force lightning without fear of crossing to the dark side, yet he didn't trust his compadres to do the same? Arrogance was a key part of the jedi downfall.

And it makes sense, I guess. I ran the half-marathon in Oslo last year. And I'm a chubby couch potato. Was I proud to finish? Sure. Yet, if I knew that I was chasing villains who had kidnapped my daughter and were going to make a smoothie out of her, you can bet your life I would have run a whole lot faster. Anger, passion, hatred, adrenalin if you will - it WILL make you stronger, you just need to control it to avoid becoming the enemy. That is where the old jedi order failed, and that is what the new jedi order is trying to address.

But I didn't read many Star Wars books (except the two first about Darth Bane, cool stuff) so this might be mostly coming out of my backside. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't consider the books canon - they are authorised, but that doesn't mean they reflect Lucas' vision. He said he doesn't read them.

In Empire, Yoda preaches to Luke the exact same thing that Obi preached to Anakin in AOTC: Let your friends go. Attachment is forbidden. I do agree that their teachings have changed, but I think it's mostly that they have stopped raising the kids from infancy, and placing that much importance on lightsaber training.

Oh, and as for Windu: I know there's been a virtual war in fandom about the Palpatine/Windu fight. I'm among those who think Palpatine threw the fight.

M.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I love the conversation. I am off to get burgers and have no time to read. Look forward to checking in later. We welcome the discussion.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I enjoyed reading your more in depth insights into the Jedi order and the force versus the dark side. Great stuff guys. I'm more of a Space:1999 guy so I certainly lack some of your depth of inside information.

H! Loved the marathon analogy! You are too much.

Havremunken said...

M,

I don't consider the books canon myself - not having read any but a few, anyway. And the two that I have read concern Darth Bane, that lovely rascal of a Sith that came up with the two-Sith-system - one master, one apprentice. One to have the power, the other to crave it. Systematic betrayal, but only vaguely related to "current" Star Wars time. It doesn't really touch what is going on in this discussion. So agreed on that point.

And I also agree that Obi and Yoda are trying to raise Luke the "old" way - but they fail, and in my opinion, that is the only way Luke could have succeeded. If he had done the whole zen passive jedi thing, the emperor and Vader would still have mopped the floors with him. The only reason Luke could get anywhere (i.e. hurt Vader to the point where the emperor had to intervene, which causes Anakin to go all paternal and lob his wrinkley *ss down the hole) is by going somewhere inbetween; He can't let the dark side consume him without becoming Vader 2. Yet he can't sit there like a touchy feely jedi and sing Kumbayah. He has to use his passion, anger and hatred to crush Vader. Denying the power of doing this is why the jedi order was ultimately defeated and almost eradicated, IMHO.

This is of course something that is not seen in the movie, but I subscribe to the theory (based on mentioned video games) that the new jedi order formed by Luke were more willing to use these feelings to their advantage, i.e. not suppress they natural power. And since there shouldn't be any Sith any more, with nasty people sitting there saying "Come to the dark side" like that solves anything, they could probably do so more safely.

I agree with you that Palpatine didn't do his best against Windu. He wanted to use the opportunity to lure Anakin to his side, and he needed to be the underdog for that to happen. He could have probably beaten ol' Samuel on a level playing field. The only little hole in this theory is that this turned out to involve allowing Mace to turn him into some kind of freakish wrinkle monster. But I guess power was the most important thing to him.. The emperor can get chicks no matter how what he looks like. :P

Oh and if not, ... Well, I'm not going to go there, but force choking was involved. :P

Anyway, I am still bitter that noone has invented a real lightsaber yet. I would get one, even though it would mean losing a few limbs. I do have a red replica thing (one-half of Darth Mauls saber), but whenever I use it my fianceee looks like she's getting a severe headache. I assume this is because the blade is plastic and not MEGA DEATH LASER!!!1 ;P